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Who Has the Best Fried Bananas in Thailand?

Many Thai guidebooks and websites will tell you that deep fried bananas, known as kluay tod/thawt (กล้วยทอด) or kluay khaek (กล้วยแขก), are a must-try sweet, Thai snack food. And we could not agree more! Thai fried bananas are one of our favorite street-side deserts in Thailand. However, you must know how and where to buy fried bananas for a delicious food experience.

The best fried bananas in Thailand are found cooked in little stalls on well-trafficked roads, where the vendors are doing a brisk business all day long. The worst Thai fried bananas are often found at or near tourist attractions where they cook huge batches of fried bananas, many of which sit around for a long time before they are bought, and thus have cooled off.

The best Thai fried bananas are hot fried bananas. Once they have cooled off, they remain edible but are nothing to write home about. This is why you want to visit a roadside vendor who does brisk business, and where the deep fried bananas are hot, or at least pleasantly warm. If you visit a stall and the fried bananas look like they have cooled off, you can ask the vendor to make a new batch by saying “Tham gluay thawt rawn dai mai?” (ทำกล้วยทอดร้อนได้ไม่).

 

Thai Bananas Frying
Thai fried bananas being made in a wok in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand

When ordering Thai fried bananas, people usually order by cash amount. The most common price amount is 40 baht, which gives you enough fried bananas for 2-3 people. Vendors often sell fried “fak thawng” (ฟักทอง) in addition to fried bananas. Fak thawng is the Thai word for Kabocha or Japanese Pumpkin, which is a very sweet variety of squash that tastes like a pumpkin and sweet potato combined.

Many Thais will order a batch of deep fried bananas and fak thawng together. We suggest giving this a try, as well. To place this 40 baht order, you would say, “Gluay thawt gap fak thawng, see sip baht” (กรวดทอดกับฝักสี่สิบบาท). There are a number of great fried banana vendors in Sakon Nakhon, but the one we most regularly visit is the vendor named “Dong & Beam” on the main highway out of town in the direction of Udon Thani. It is located on the left just past the little Big C gas station, a couple hundred meters before you turn left to visit Huai Sai Reservoir.

The batters that vendors coat their fried bananas with vary. Some use a simple batter of flour, sugar, and water, while others use rice flour, coconut milk, and egg. However, all end up crispy, golden brown, and delicious. If you take them away to eat at home, we suggest dipping them in a side dish of sweetened condensed milk, which is a common Thai practice that makes the fried bananas even more delicious.

 

Deep Fried Bananas in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand
When eating deep fried Thai bananas, try drizzling or dipping them in sweetened condensed milk.

Banana aficionados might be interested in knowing that it is Kluay Hom and Kluay Khai that are used in the making of Thai fried bananas. Kluay Hom is a large, fragrant yellow banana similar to the kind of banana we see in supermarkets in the West. Fancier Thai restaurants will often use these to prepare fried banana fritters. Kluay Khai is a smaller yellow banana, and the one which is most frequently used in roadside stalls.

Kluay Hak Muk is another Thai banana, but one which is roasted or grilled for a snack, while Kluay Nam Wa is a sticky and sweet Thai banana that is a key ingredient in Thai desserts made with sticky rice or rice flour, such as in Khao Tom Mat or Khanom Kluay.

Lastly, if you aren’t sure how to pronounce the Thai word for banana, it sounds like this: gloo-ay.